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Bleak Picture for the Salmon of the World

2440 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  kush
Just watched a very interesting program about the plight of atlantic and pacific salmon and the threat fish farms pose to their survival. The program in question is Nature of Things with David Suzuki which aired on CBC tonight. This particular program is a CBC/BBC collaboration and Suzuki abstained from producing the segment to provide a less biased view of the situation.

Before I give you an overview, I will offer my recording of the program to anyone who missed it and is interested in watching it. The only caveat is that you pass it along to some other interested Forum member when finished with it. One copy to go to the first one who asks for it...

In a nutshell, wild stocks of salmon are being threatened from a number of different sources.

Fish farms are flourishing and threatening salmon on both coasts of north america as well as Europe by transmitting disease, interbreeding with wild fish, polluting vast salty areas, and competing with wild fish.

Additionally, farmed salmon might also present a health threat to humans. Heavily contaminated feed for salmon has been confirmed in some farms in Europe.
PCBs, organichlorid pesticides and other contaminants are absorbed readily by farmed fish through their regular feed. PCBs cause neurotoxins, and aide in the development of various types of cancers. High levels of PCBs and dioxins have been measured in farmed salmon in the U.K.

Finally, large deposits of feces and other contaminants from fish farms also produce pollutants creating an area too rich in nutrients which discharges ammonia and other gases like methane.

As of this date there is no data and no checking regarding possible toxin levels in farmed fish, and therefore there's no advising against consumption of farmed salmon according to Health Canada.

Health Canada does not seem that interested in what's happening elsewhere, only interested in food in Canada. Critics say the agency relies too much on the salmon farming industry for their information. The Feds are not monitoring or producing risk assessment studies, unless adviced of specific incidents.

A possible solution for the farming problem would be to bring farming practices in-shore but this would eliminate their profitability unless all were forced to do likewise.

Why are salmon dying at sea? Some reserachers feel increasingly large concentrations of sea lice are killing salmon at sea. That could be the reason why so many smolts go to sea and so few return as salmon to their native rivers.

In the east coast of Vancouver island, farmed atlantic salmon escapees are becoming the norm in commercial fishermen nets. This is pretty scary because that means that they're escaping in great numbers, reproducing successfully, and thriving as adults and competing for habitat and food against the native species Pacific salmon.

A further correlation of the impact of salmon farming can be seen in the decline of wild salmon fisheries in western Scotland where salmon fish farming has proliferated.

Finally, the view from some farmers is that they're already being regulated to death. However, critics say there are guidelines but no real regulations in the farming industry.
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I watched that show in horror also. I have to figure that David Suzuki had to have great courage to publish the show and the CBC and BBC to show it. Here in the old USof A it will never be shown.
I have been trying to order it so that I can give it to the WSC out here in the Pacific NW. It apears that it is not for sale as yet from CBC's clearing house. If I can't purchase a copy I would love to obtain one from you. I will gladly pay any costs to you for a coppy.

While there are many reasons that our fish populations are going down world wide this in my opinion will be the end to any chance of getting healthy runs ever again. The sea lice problem will no doubt be the major culprit. Also the issue of 30% of the worlds bait fish are now being used to feed farm raised fish. This comes out at 10 pounds of bait fish to 1 pound of farmed fish.
Thanks for your post.
Steve Wrye.
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Hi Steve:

Yes, it's like a horror story isn't it. I have sent a copy of the tape to Juro who should be getting it any time now. He's promised to pass it along to other interested parties (Juro, could you send the tape to Steve when you're finished with it?).

There's more bad news. I just got a message from the Euro @ group crossposted to the salar list where a fellow from Finland has heard about the impending set up of a huge fish farming operation in the Kola Peninsula. Aren't there any sacred places places anymore?

Thanks Trutta,
I'm getting a little bit of a run a round by the CBC. If I don't get it from them I'll bug Juro for it.
Sorry to here about the big farm in Finland. I thought that Finland had started to wise up in the last few years but then many of the big Aquaculture companies come out of Finland. I used to train many of the employees in the Seattle area that worked in the fish farm labs on proper disinfection proceedures. These labs did research on many different fronts including antibiotic uses on smolts that they would infect with diseases that they thought would sooner or latter show up on the farms. Many of these labs were owned by companies from Finland and the ones that weren't were eventually bought up by companies from Northern Europe and moved over seas. These labs were one scarry place to work when you realised that one minor mistake could wipe out an entire fish population if somehow the diseases got out of the lab.
Thanks again for posting and helping folks realize the seriousness of the problem.
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Steve -

Thanks to Luis I have received the tape and hopefully I will be viewing it tonight. Let me know if I should forward it to you for the WSC to review.

I'll also post a review when I finish viewing it.

Thanks LUIS!

Well Luis, finally got my time with the VCR after all the family videos on the blizzard-bound snow days we've had here in the northeastern US. Thank you for sending it to me, it was truly one of the important documentaries of our time. I am devastated to learn that the salmon situation is as bad as I had feared and the aquaculture boom is occuring totally at the wrong moment in the salmon's fight for survival.

A few notes:

Salmon farming is big business: Nutreco, the world's largest aquaculture business
raises 25 times more salmon on west scotland's coast than there are natural salmon

Concentrations have resulted in explosions of sea lice populations contained by pesticides in feed within farms but not treatable in wild fish. The show joins a research vessel who captures AS at sea literally covered with sealice to the point of impending death. The sharp rise in sea lice populations is suspected to be linked to the heavy concentrations of stationary biomass. (Sea lice larvae drift the currents looking for hosts)

Many other diseases:

Extensive farm diseases:

- infectious bacterial
- effects of captivity like cataracts common
- unnatural manipulation of growth rates and genetics
- bacterial diseases epidemics in farms, destruction f infected stocks common
- anti-biotic permeation used to overcome inherent disease outbreaks in farms,
- wild stocks who contact these diseases do not survive
- escapees spread disease, compete and interbreed
- infectious salmon anemia a typical and common ailment
- sealice are proven to become increasingly resistant to treatments at farms

- Norway's rivers have 3 to 1 farmed fish majority returning in their rivers
- 30% hybridization found, increasing every year

Good quote from biologist: "the introduction of new genetic material each year (referring to escapee farm salmon) prevents natural adaptation in wild stocks to occur to deal with the diseases and epedemics caused by farming operations"

Three New Brunswick rivers have up to a 10-1 ratio of farmed to wild salmon returning where wild runs are on the brink of biological extinction

- salmon farming is the fastest growing aquaculture business

- exotic atlantic brood on pacific after pacific species failed

- In British Columbia, 2300 in independent sampling operation - but no DFO sampling being done at all. Fishermen report increase in atlantic salmon occurrences each year in pacific salmon stocks, which are decreasing.


Getting better - 100,000 / year in the 80's
down to 30,000 / year escapement in British Columbia... (and tens of thousands in the atlantic as well / year)

- University of Victoria... proven spawning in 3 Pacific river systems, survival and competition with native species also proven.

- 50% of capelin, sand eels, and herring (bait) caught in the atlantic go to oil for salmon feed
- Directs contaminants back into the human food chain... pcb's, dioxins, and dioxin-like chemicals prominent in salmon feed
- south pacific feed is most free of these contaminants, in comparison

Farming area effluent effect - several feet deep of contaminants, organisms do not survive - clams, worms, etc.

Yet despite all this farms complain about high cost (up to 150k/year) of regulatory compliance. Reality is there are no fines for dumping fish or for using dangerous chemicals, escapment, etc. We may be regulating but we're not doing it right... it's not working.

My feelings on the matter - regulate the industry so that farming operations can not afford to mess up... make it catastrophic if they allow fish to escape or contribute to the chemical, biological or other forms of contamination of indigenous fish or environments where they operate.

Steve -

Please email me a mailing address and I will get it to you right away.

Thanks again Luis.

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Thanks for the overview of the documentry. So many times out here in the Pacific NW people think that aquaculture is the lesser of two evils,the other evil being comercial gill netting. I'm not so sure in the long run though, at least with gill netting somehow some fish get through but with Sea Lice and disease those few fish will have no chance while we fight to correct the problems of over fishing. Our fight to save wild fish world wide must take on many fronts, from habitat, development to over fishing and now aquaculture. It's a big battle and it's going to be a long one. It is my hope that world wide people of all cultures and back grounds can find a way to unite,(WTO) and fight against the plain and simple greed that causes the complex problems we now have in our enviroment.
I will give the tape to the Wild Steelhead Coalition to view and then pass it on to any that would like to see it.
Thanks, Juro & Trutta.
Address: Steve Wrye
11009 112th Ave NE
Kirkland WA 98033.
PS I'll be out your way from the 20th to 27th of March, if your around would be great to visit with you. Oh ya can you maybe head south and give those stripers a good kick in the butt so they come a month earlier!
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In response to your stat on escapes getting better. I'm afraid that it is just not so, the basic problem is that the salmon farming industry here in B.C. is "self-regulating" talk about the fox guarding the hen house! The numbers are going down because those are simply the "reported escapes". The industry has become quite sensitive to criticsm and I would suggest for its own best interest that the only reported escapes are the ones they HAVE to own up to because somebody witnessed it!

The bottom line here is that our government sees the industry as some kind of cash cow and has bent over backward to make it easy for them to do business. Often Canadian governments are criticised by business people for its socialist tendencies and extensive regulation but that is not the case with aquaculture. The free hand given this industry is enough to make a laissez-faire capitalist fresh from the 1850's swoon with excitement!

Anyway, tight lines - tyler
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